Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” For Carlo Montagano (B.S. ’92, M.S. ’18), his passion for serving others inspired him to leave his lucrative corporate career and devote his life to philanthropy.
Even at his busiest, Carlo always made time to volunteer in his community. He assisted in hospice facilities and served in several local organizations, including Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters and Knights of Columbus. Although he was “living the life,” he was longed for a deeper purpose.
“I was at a point in my life where I had been very successful,” Carlo says. “But I was left wondering ‘what is my purpose’ and ‘how can I give back?”
That’s when his journey from the boardroom to building site began. Questioning his purpose inspired him to take early retirement and go back to school for his Masters in Science in Counseling and Human Services. His first choice? Post University.
“I’m a very loyal person,” Carlo says. “I enjoyed my undergraduate experience and knew Post offered an online program that I could begin while transitioning out of my day time job. It seemed like a perfect match.”
Like many non-traditional students, Carlo found re-entering school after several years a daunting task. He recalls a time that he missed a deadline because he didn’t know how to navigate the class’s online interface. After a couple of panicked emails and guidance from staff, he found his stride. He credits Sara Thompson, program chair of the Master of Science in Counseling and Human Services, for caring about his success and putting a personal touch on his education.
“Whether it was questions about the course material or advice on what internship to take, she went out of her way to help. Even after I graduated, we always made sure to keep tabs on each other,” he says.
The experience at QENO was crucial. Carlo was able to secure a second internship at Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity thanks to the relationships and connections he made working with Director Davis and her team.
“My biggest piece of advice to students is network, network, network,” Carlo says. “All of the jobs I’ve had were because I reached out to someone and told them what I had to offer.”
Carlo also understood the value of going above and beyond during his internship. During his time at Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity he was able to identify, pursue and successful secure a $50,000 grant for the expansion of a Restore retail store.
Today, he is the newly minted Executive Director of the Brunswick County Habitat for Humanity in North Carolina. Carlo is responsible for leading a team of employees, volunteers, donors and corporate sponsors in the organization’s mission to build homes for families in need. He also works to provide affordable mortgages for families.
As he embarks on his new journey, Carlo is now where he’s meant to be. Devastated by Hurricane Florence in 2018, Brunswick County has many families in homes that are in desperate need for repair and many homes are nearly uninhabitable. It’s a race against the clock for Carlo and his team but due to the education he received from Post University and his experiences at both internships, he feels up to the challenge.
“I feel like I’ve found my calling,” Carlo says. “It’s rewarding to know that all our work is directly changing people’s lives…getting more families into good homes.”
Post University’s online Master of Science in Counseling and Human Services helps students develop knowledge in areas of prevention, remediation, psycho-education, diagnosis, assessment, and intervention. Students can choose to study from a wide variety of concentrations, including Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Alcohol and Drug Counseling, and Forensic Mental Health Counseling.